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India’s literacy rate lowest among the largest economies

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By Ramon Collado

As of 2015, the literacy rate in India is 72.1 per cent, which entails that over 300 million Indians do not have the ability to read and write. Interestingly, nations that compete with India in trade; services; and industry boast high levels of literacy among their populations—South Africa, for instance, accounts with a literacy rate of 94 per cent; Singapore 96.8 per cent and Taiwan 98.5 per cent. More importantly, China, India’s greatest competitor—India and China are the largest economies in Asia; only trailing Japan—accounts with a 96.4 per cent literacy rate.

With a population of over 1.2 billion, India, the 7th largest economy on the planet, may not be able to maintain a symmetrical pace towards economic development vis-à-vis its rival economies, due to its poor education expenditure; hence, India’s status as an economic powerhouse can turn into an ephemeral, economic boom. If India fails to increase its education expenditure; its economy will fall behind its competitors and slump.

The annual GDP (gross domestic product) of India is 1.8 trillion; however, only 3.9 per cent of it goes to the education system. Japan, a nation that has achieved economic development invests 9.6 per cent of its 4.9 trillion GDP. More specifically, when one compares India to Brazil—a proportional comparison as Brazil and India are similar economies; Brazil surpasses India’s investment with a 6.3 per cent education expenditure of its 1.8 trillion GDP.

India scored 37.8 out of 100—100 represents the best and 0 the worst—on 2015 Universitas 21 ranking of countries which are the best at providing higher education for their populations. India had the lowest score among the 10 largest economies on the planet—United States, China, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, India, Brazil, Italy, and Canada. It also scored lower than most of its economic competitors: South Africa (45), Indonesia (38.8), Malaysia (55.4), Mexico (41.7) Singapore (80.3), Taiwan (63.6), and South Korea (60.5).

Emerging economies like Kenya, South Africa, Malaysia, and Nigeria refer to human capital flight (brain drain) as a serious problem, India is not the exception. Human capital flight is caused by a country’s political instability, low education expenditure, low salaries, lack of job opportunities and other factors. Brain drain prevents nations from benefiting from its skilled professionals as they opt for more attractive career opportunities abroad—30 million Indians working for the developed countries are highly skilled. More notable, skilled professionals that work abroad may wind up working for the competitor which can affect the development of the economy of their country of origin—for instance, an Indian, skilled professional that moves to China for a better salary.

India must not ignore the pitfalls of its education system; therefore, it must increase its education expenditure. At this pivotal point for emerging economies—Brazil, India— seeking for economic development, skilled professionals make the difference due to the innovative contributions they can bring into a developing nation. Therefore, welcoming programs for skilled professionals that have left the country can mitigate the brain drain issue in India. Also, job opportunities; grants; attractive salaries; robust investments in higher education and research-oriented programs dedicated to increase the literacy rate, can contribute to the development of the education system simultaneously motivating skilled professionals to remain in the country.

India will not achieve economic development with a poorly educated population; on the contrary, as India’s competitors propel their education systems, and India’s education expenditure remains stagnant, its economic development will decrease while the economies of countries that are prioritizing education become more robust. India must increase its education expenditure in order to secure an elite-class of human capital, thus, steadily advancing towards economic development.

Collado is a graduate candidate in international affairs at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. The article was first published in The Hill.

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Conventional vs Unconventional Classroom

So where would you be learning, conventional or an unconventional classroom?

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Unlike the conventional learning in a classroom, online training makes the content available for students digitally. Flickr

Learning is the process of acquiring new skills or knowledge and for quite some time students have followed the process of enrolling in an offline centre to learn and study from the material provided but now, there is a new and an unconventional approach to upskilling yourself and that is through online learning.

While I was growing up, if I ever wanted to learn a new skill, I had to travel a minimum of 2-3 kms to the nearest learning or tuition centre to enquire and then enrol for the desired training. Though there were interactions with the teacher, but inhibitions got the better of me and with time, because of all the unresolved doubts, the learning started to become monotonous and I lost interest. But online learning has made that journey for a student interesting, fun and a cakewalk. You can relax in your seat while the knowledge is displayed on your screen and ask all that you wish to.

To begin with, what is online learning?

Unlike the conventional learning in a classroom, online learning makes the content available for students digitally. Students can learn online, anywhere and anytime. Instead of physical copies of books, e-learning uses visual content and gamification.

To help you understand the differences better I would like to compare both the classrooms and the learning associated on the basis of parameters that are essential for an overall learning.

1.       Affordability: 

In offline centres or conventional classrooms there are a lot of miscellaneous expenses incurred and hence the fee structure is designed accordingly.

Whereas in online learning, students’ aim is to learn so companies spend resources only on developing the content and thereby lowering the cost of the training.

From text to graphics, this software does it all. Pixabay
In offline centres or conventional classrooms there are a lot of miscellaneous expenses incurred and hence the fee structure is designed accordingly. Pixabay

2.       Flexibility and convenience:

In a conventional classroom, if you miss a class it gets difficult to grasp the topic and understand what is being taught. The classes have to be attended on fixed days
and timings, offering almost no flexibility. Whereas in online learning, the classes can be taken as per your availability and thus giving you an opportunity to design your own curriculum. You could also watch the classes over and understand the topics in-depth.

3.       Answers to your questions:

While learning, doubts might arise about the topic being taught but students usually hesitate in asking questions in a classroom. Whereas in online learning, you are an anonymous user and your doubts, as frivolous they may be, can be asked without any hesitation.
4.       Practical experience:
The learning journey in a conventional classroom is about reading and grasping, it involves little or none practical applications of the learnings. Whereas in online learning, the training is designed in such a manner that the content is informative and involves practical applications as well. The test and assignments in the module are made to ensure that the student has a holistic growth.

Also Read- Apple Watch Helps Users in US Take ECG

Only 20 percent of the five million students who graduate every year get employed, industry lobby Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said in a report, published last year.

The competition is stiff and is going to get worse with time so It essential to make yourself stand out from the rest to increase your chances of getting hired. The certificate you will receive at the successful completion of the training will help in making the employer realise that you have relevant skills and in-depth knowledge about the subject.

So where would you be learning, conventional or an unconventional classroom?

About the Author: Sarvesh Agrawal is the Founder and CEO of Internshala, an internship and trainings platform. (Internshala.com)